Cyber-Dystopian, AI-Generated Horrors at Miss Hong Kong 2023

This year’s pageant created a virtual host by fusing together past champions, then asked contestants to have conversations with AI-produced, elderly versions of themselves

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5:34 PM HKT, Tue August 29, 2023 1 mins read

As if pageants weren’t dehumanizing enough, the 51st edition of the Miss Hong Kong Pageant was a spectacle of virtual, dystopian future-horrors.

Onstage, the contest was hosted by an AI-generated projection named Evelyn Chan, a digital amalgamation of the pageant’s past winners, which organizers called “the most perfect Miss Hong Kong champion.”

ai-powered mc at miss hong kong, evelyn chan

The AI performed basic hosting duties at the pageant

The segment featuring the AI host was a Q&A with contestants, but as Hong Kong-based Dimsum Daily reported, “the audience was left wondering how closely the AI resembled a real person.”

The digital host’s appearance was generated from video clips, and her name was also chosen by AI — Evelyn, or Wanyan, means gentle, beautiful, and charming, and Chan is a surname shared by six previous Miss Hong Kong champions.

Organized by TVB, this year’s Miss Hong Kong final featured seventeen participants. The winner was Hilary Chong, a 21-year-old student at the University of Hong Kong.

the seventeen miss hong kong contestants in opening ceremony

The seventeen Miss Hong Kong finalists

AI did more at this year’s pageant than just generating Evelyn Chan, though — TVB’s General Manager Eric Tsang told AsiaOne that he also used ChatGPT to come up with interview questions.

Not only did AI assist with the interview portion, but it was also used in judging the contestants’ appearances.

“We asked AI, ‘What do you think is beautiful?’” said Tsang, “and it talked about the eyes, mouth, collarbone, and body proportions.”

Then, AI was used to help “disassemble their facial features and grade them.”

Ah. Horrifying.

swimsuit segment miss hong kong

The top ten pageant participants

Some viewers felt the pageant's use of AI seemed to feed directly into some of the main critiques of the industry.

One popular Weibo comment reads, “In fact, this kind of beauty pageant is the real objectification of women. Women stand on the stage and pose for the audience to appreciate, evaluate, and score. What is this if not objectification?”

Finally, organizers used AI to generate aged versions of each contestant, then had contestants talk with their elderly, digital clones. Other segments of the competition included swimsuit and cheongsam modeling, singing, dancing, and more.

first runner up, winner, and second runner up of miss hong kong 2023

From left to right: Lynn Wang, first runner-up, Hilary Chong, winner, and Lovelle Wang, second runner-up

In the Chinese mainland, audiences were largely focused on rooting for some hometown heroes. Both runners-up, Lynn Wang and Lovelle Wang, hail from the Chinese mainland — Jiangsu and Beijing, respectively, and qualified for the pageant by possessing Hong Kong IDs.

“I mean, the runner-up is prettier than the champion,” an audience member wrote.

All images via Weibo

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